Guam News - Guam News
Guam - The legislature is discussing a substituted version of the budget bill. This new version which was substituted by the committee on budget and appropriations is based off of the same revenue projections in the governor's budget but differs in the way the funds are allocated.READ the original Bill #426, the FY 13 Budget as submitted by the Governor HERE
The substitute budget bill operates off the same revenue estimates or revenue projections that the governor's office has predicted. It's about $569 million dollars which is about $14 million dollars more than the current year's revenues. "The major difference between the budgets again is the governor wants to take the additional revenue and spend it on operations increased operations and we want to take the additional revenue and give it back to the people in terms of increasing payments for refunds,” explained Senator Pangelinan.
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Senator Pangelinan says GovGuam owes about $30 million for past due refunds. The governor has said he will soon be paying out about $14 million in refunds briNging the total owed down to about $16 million. Pangelinan says there is an additional $4 million expected in rebates from Selectcare which can be used to pay refunds which would bring the total down to $12 million.
The senator says the $14 million proposed in this substitute budget would then eliminate all 2011 refunds and leave $2 million that can be put aside to pay for 2012 refunds. "The governor's been very concerned that he says he has no plan of how to pay next year's refunds except for some cutting drastically that would impact employees,” said Pangelinan. The senator is referring to Governor Calvo's call to cut government spending by $43 million dollars. The governor's plan as recommended by his spending cuts task force is to implement an early retirement program, reduce some of the contributions to the GovGuam retirement fund, and cut some hazardous pay and other benefits for certain GovGuam employees.
"Well this budget will provide an additional $14 million dollars in expenditure cuts from the budget requests by the governor that will be directly appropriated to the payment of additional income tax refunds so it doesn't impact the current employees but it will provide the resources needed to basically allow us to catch up with 2011 refunds that we owe and that would then free up the collections next year to be deposited into the income tax refund account to have the money available for next year when people file their refunds for tax year 2012,” said Pangelinan.
Meanwhile Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz brought up a question during session regarding what appears to be a large spike in qualifying certificate rebates. These are rebates or major tax breaks given to companies who are given qualifying certificates. "Total rebate authorized for 2011 was $15 million four hundred ninety-eight thousand three hundred and fifty-nine dollars.
That's a huge amount of money for rebates in one year when in the previous years it's only been $23(million) for eight years or about $3 million a year and all of a sudden it jumps up to $15(million) in one year,” said Cruz. The Vice-Speaker is asking for the OPA to investigate this spike in corporate tax breaks and hopes to hold a joint oversight hearing with rev&tax, DOA, and GEDA to find out what is happening and how this is affecting GovGuam revenues.
The governor's office issued a statement today saying that they are currently reviewing the substitute legislation. Meanwhile the legislature also confirmed the appointments of Bryan Duenas to CAHA, David Matanane to the CLTC, Dr. Joan Gill to the Guam Board of Medical Examiners and Pedro Leon Guerrero as the director of customs.
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